Speech without a Partner: Josef Pieper on Flattery

“What then, is flattery?…The decisive element is this:  having an ulterior motive.  I address the other not simply to please him or to tell him something that is true.  Rather, what I say to him is designed to get something from him!…His dignity is ignored…in order to manipulate him for my purposes.

“Basically, what happens here is speech without a partner (since there is no truAbuse of Languagee other); such speech, in contradiction to the nature of language, intends not to communicate but to manipulate.

Is there still any area of life at all free of it–any corner where I am spared such flattery as is designed to manipulate me–to make me buy something, for instance?

Joseph Pieper, Abuse of Language–Abuse of Power

In how many ways are my words nothing but “speech without a partner?”


This postspeech-silence is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).

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